After what happened at Ebbsfleet last season, it would take a great deal of bravery to predict this afternoon’s events.
With five minutes to go before kick-off, it appeared that the game would not go ahead. The home players had circulated a statement through the stands, declaring that unless their lack of payment was resolved, they refused to take the pitch.
They did walk out at 2.55, but having not warmed up, surely we would be able to catch them cold? Remarkably, United were completely dominant despite their lack of preparation, and led 3-0 at half time.
Bryan Hughes made three substitutions at half time, and we approached the entire second half as if we were a goal down in injury time. Incredibly, our reckless approach nearly worked, as Shaun Pearson and Stuart Beavon pulled the game back to 3-2, and Jason Oswell missed a great late chance to equalize. However, such an attacking strategy would inevitably leave us open at the other end, and we conceded a fourth in the 87th minute.
Stonebridge Road hasn’t generally been a happy hunting ground for us, and we’ve lost on four of our seven visits there. Our first win at Ebbsfleet was on Hallowe’en in 2009, and even then we received some help from the home side. Lamine Sakho scored the only goal of the game – his sole goal for Wrexham – but United aided us by having two players sent off in the second half!
The next season we recorded our biggest win over Ebbsfleet on their own patch. Mathias Pogba opened the scoring and Andy Morrell seemed to break their spirit with a second just before the break. He added another in the second half, with Steven Leslie also scoring and Jake Speight rounding off a 5-0 win from the penalty spot.
Morrell isn’t our top scorer in this fixture though: Chris Holroyd and Jeff Louis share that distinction on three goals.
Paul Rutherford plays the 500th games of his career today, but it’s not just the little winger who passes a significant landmark today. Luke Young brings up a double milestone, playing in both his 75th Wrexham game and making the 325th appearance of his career.